Sabri Blumberg - Boosting Production & Address Raise Requests: Advice from Sabri - MGEMornings and evenings on my schedule are busy, but afternoons are extremely slow. What can I do about this? 

This is really a control issue. Who’s in charge of the schedule – your office or your patients? Although some people cannot come in mid-day, most can take some time off when needed for a dental procedure.

Whoever does scheduling in your office should be trained and drilled on how to handle patients to come in when the office can see them. Staff should not ask people when they would like to come in. Most people are probably going to say early morning or late afternoon. If they’re going to give them a choice – give them a choice between two time slots that are available for that procedure. In other words, tell them when to come in.

Something else: when trying to control a schedule it is important to ensure you have clear-cut policy and guidelines on what procedures to schedule when. Then, assuming training is correct, it’s up to the person in charge of the schedule to make it happen. And they should (assuming your policies are sensible and easy to follow).

And be careful, I’ve seen many cases where the office has sensible scheduling policy and the person in charge of the schedule convinces the doctor that these (afternoon, morning , so on) slots “can’t” be filled. The doctor then thinks that they need to change policies, working hours, and so on. A more genuine explanation would be (from the scheduler) that they can’t fill those slots. Because that’s reality. I’ve seen plenty of cases where an “un-fillable” schedule is easily filled by someone else doing it! So, keep an eye – if you get this type of response, your scheduler may need more training (or a new job).

(Related: One Incredibly Simple Change to Make Your Front Desk More Efficient)

How should I handle it when a staff member asks for a raise?

Much of this depends on the situation along with one other guiding factor. If the staff member was hired with the agreement that they would get a raise after certain conditions were met (i.e. worked there for 6 months, getting X-ray training and certification done and so on), well then the answer is simple – give them the raise!

Other than this the real issue here is PERFORMANCE. Performance is best measured by statistics. Raises based only off of longevity can be dangerous, especially if you don’t measure performance. An employee asks for a raise because they’ve been there for a year. Now let’s say for our example that this person in not very productive, but you give them the raise anyways based on longevity. They continue to be non-productive – you’re now out an additional $___ (whatever raise you gave them) for really nothing in return. Do this long enough and you’ll begin to develop overhead problems.

So, the moral is: give raises to people who perform well and contribute to the office.

I’ll add one other caveat here. Pay/compensation should also be tied to value and responsibility. There’s only so much a receptionist will be worth even if they’re the best receptionist in the world. This has to do with their position in the office. If this person wants to make more than that – they would need to take on more responsibility. And if they are really good then they probably deserve more responsibility or a promotion. Keep an eye on this too.